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12487Re: [mythsoc] Newest Greenman Review

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  • David Bratman
    Jul 7, 2004
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      At 08:52 AM 7/7/2004 -0400, Wayne G. Hammond wrote:
      >The latest edition of Tyler's book is,
      >however, of at least intellectual interest for its use (such as it is) of
      >Tolkien sources later than _The Silmarillion_, and for Tyler's abandoning
      >of his previous conceit that the Red Book of Westmarch, etc. were "real".

      Unfortunately, what Tyler says and what Tyler does are two different
      things. From my own review of the new edition (Mythprint, December 2003):

      "A reliable source but a very poor second choice to Robert Foster's
      _Complete Guide to Middle-earth_ (less detail, more omissions, few dates,
      hardly any page references), Tyler's tome now includes entries from
      _Unfinished Tales_, 24 years after that book was published. It ignores
      almost everything else since then, whether it fits into the (illusory)
      "final" legendarium or not. Tyler claims he's dropped his pretence that
      Middle-earth is real, but entries like that for Orcs, identifying them as
      the true origin of mythic goblins, show that he hasn't."

      >Is Robert Tilendis not aware that Ruth Noel's _Languages of Middle-earth_
      >is utterly notorious for the number of its errors? Has he never seen it
      >called "the little red horror"?

      I found Tilendis's review excusable. He neither claims expertise on the
      subject nor pretends to expertise he doesn't have. Yet he is wise enough
      to detect a certain odor of unreliability in Noel's book. Though I suppose
      if you're going to review a 25-year-old treatise it might be a good idea to
      check up on what previous scholarly reviewers have had to say before
      publishing your own thoughts.

      More puzzling was Tilendis whining about how boring the scholarly apparatus
      was. And Jack Merry, reviewer of Swann's _The Road Goes Ever On_, is bored
      by sheet music. Spare me from the easily bored, or at least spare me from
      reviews about how easily bored they get.

      >And then there is Wes Unruh's review of _J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and
      >Illustrator_, which he cannot have read too carefully.

      Certainly not. Unruh says, "I would have preferred a chronological order
      that his creative process might be more easily inferred." I am astonished
      by the implication that A&I has anything other than a chronological basis
      within the various threads of Tolkien's visual imagination. Unruh also
      calls it an "incomplete survey," and at the word "incomplete" I give up.
      As a survey, "incomplete" is the last word for it. It was never intended
      or advertised as "The Complete Artwork of J.R.R. Tolkien," and by any other
      standards the book is comprehensively inclusive almost to a fault.

      Again I'd like to quote from my own review, at

      "This magnificent volume is a full, detailed, and definitive study of
      Tolkien's artwork in all its manifestations ... About three-quarters of
      Tolkien's artwork in _Pictures_ is reproduced in this book, usually smaller
      in size but often more clearly and usually in better color. The overlap,
      and the exclusions, are designed to enable this book to cover Tolkien's art
      thoroughly and completely without rendering _Pictures_ superfluous. ... A
      few early drafts of particular scenes from _Pictures_ are not included
      here, but this book makes up for that by including other previously
      unpublished drafts of the same scenes. ... Few authors are fortunate
      enough to have their works served so well."

      - David Bratman
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